How can I improve my resume?

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review my resumeMiles Undergrad from Every University asked:

“Can you review my resume?”

We get a variation of this question all the time at Campus Career Coach. The truth is, it’s not that difficult to create a polished and professional resume on your own! You just have to take the time, know what to look for and avoid common pitfalls.

Think about what employers are looking for.

You’re not writing a resume for you, you’re writing it for a potential employer! This is the most frequent obstacle I see students face: knowing what to leave out and what to include. You have a whole life full of experiences and achievements you want to share, but employers are only interested in how you will help their business and fit in with their work environment.

Before including anything on your resume, it’s important to ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this relevant to the position?
  • Would my work be enhanced by this skill or experience?
  • Does this add or distract from the impression I’m trying to make?
  • Does this information make me a better candidate?

Keep it short, to the point, and easy to read.

Employers may only spend a few seconds glancing over your resume, so you’ll want to make sure they get as much information as easily as possible. Maximize the information a reader will get from your resume by:

  • Use bullet points to highlight important information
  • Put your strongest or most important points at the top or bottom of lists
  • Use consistent formatting and a legible font; Times New Roman 12pt is standard for a reason!
  • Mix up your action words and avoid repeating sentences
  • Focus on valuable skills – don’t waste space describing the day to day tasks of common jobs

More is not necessarily better. Use exactly as much space as you need to get your point across; a finely tailored and precise one page resume can be much more effective than a cluttered and exhaustive two pager. Check out our resume gallery for additional ideas on formatting and spacing.

Have a second pair of eyes check your work.

It always pays to get a second opinion. Whether it’s a friend, roommate, or the counselor at your career center on campus, having someone else read through your resume is vital. Not only will this help catch spelling and grammar errors, but an outside observer can make sure you’re only including the most vital information for the position, and that your resume isn’t difficult to read.

When you’re about done with your resume, read through the job posting to which you’re applying, then read through your resume. Would you hire this applicant?

Best of Luck,

Esme


About the Author

Esme Smith

Esme received her M.A. In Counseling from St. Edward's University, and worked with students at Concordia University Texas' Career Center. She developed a passion for Career Counseling after leaving undergrad without much guidance, and grappling with unsatisfying work. She strives to help others bridge the gap between graduation and "the real world."

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